Because I don’t want to depart from the EU I am partly delighted that the Conservatives broke their latest promise to do so by last Thursday. Given the number of promises they have made since early 2016 to get us out on various dates if we voted to do so, this feels very much like the Aesop’s fable of people that cried wolf. They have now extended their promise to remove us by 31st January. However I know from talking to people on both the leave and remain opinions that the evident uncertainty is becoming very frustrating and disturbing. Those people who want us to leave and who also want this uncertainty to end will probably be the most disappointed if we do leave as it will take many years for us to resolve what our ex-EU state will become. However the immediate challenge that we all now face is a third General Election since May 2015 even though there is no immediate prospect that our current views about Brexit are going to be considered or assessed and the stupid claim that if we vote for a party that has Brexit in its manifesto, that we voted again for Brexit rather than the candidate or party. If such an argument worked, Parliament could dramatically reduce its activities by linking up hundreds of their policy votes into one combined vote every few months or even once every five years and our MPs could return to their constituencies. Such an approach whilst completely incompetent would at least save our nation far more money than the £100m which the General Elections cost us all every 18 months. General elections would at least be more cost effective if they took place on the same day as local elections in May. The fact is that we all know that MPs are our representatives, not delegates and so their manifesto indicates what they believe or support, not providing a clear set of directives from us as voters. In that sense ideally a manifesto should be a great deal more personally developed than what is primarily produced by the party. Both Corbyn and Johnson are clear examples of how far from party manifestos they have travelled in the years before they became party leaders.
Once the various political parties had all agreed to move towards another General Election, the only real issue for them to resolve was when it would take place. My own view that next May would be the first credible opportunity was clearly not something that worked in their minds and for some strange reason that I don’t understand the options were reduced to Monday the 9th and Thursday the 12th December. However one of our Sussex MPs nearly explained matters using the same argument that I have made regarding the cost of an election. When MPs were debating which date to choose for the election, an MP from Suffolk pointed out that village halls and similar buildings would be hard to access on a Sunday to enable Councils to prepare for a Monday election. Tim Loughton then stated “The halls would need to be prepared on a Sunday for a Monday, and we would also potentially have to pay double time for wages, which would involve extra expense”. This does make sense and would just about explain why many people voted against the Monday 9th December date, however it certainly doesn’t explain why anyone would support an election on Thursday 12th December and it seems very reasonable for all MPs who have voted for that date should explain their justification. Indeed I was initially very pleased to read the comments made by Caroline Lucas. She stated very clearly “I will not be supporting a general election because I do not think that a general election will resolve Brexit. The clue is partly in the name: a “general” election is about general issues. It is impossible to extrapolate from the result what people think about a very specific issue—in this case, Brexit. If we want a specific answer on Brexit, we have to ask a specific question, and the best way of doing that is through a people’s vote. That is even more the case with an electoral system that is as undemocratic and antiquated as ours, because first past the post regularly delivers majority Governments on a minority of votes.” The rest of her speech was equally coherent and credible. However where she has let many of us down is in the fact that she then voted for an election on 9th December. She was not alone as Peter Kyle, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Stephen Lloyd also voted for the 9th December although Lloyd Russell-Moyle also voted for an election on the 12th December along with every Tory or ex-Tory MP in Sussex.